What is the Intermittent Energy Restriction Diet and is it safe for weight loss?

Losing weight, getting fit, and generally living a healthier life are probably the most common New Year’s resolutions. Some people exercise more, others take up sports, while others start eating healthier.

While the Mediterranean diet often comes out on top, new research shows that intermittent energy restriction may be just the ticket for some.

How does intermittent energy restriction work?

IER includes periods of eating during calorie deficit as well as alternating periods of eating during calorie maintenance.

For example, a person might reduce calories to 30 percent below maintenance for two weeks, then spend the next two weeks eating regularly.

It shows promise as a viable approach to weight management and overall health improvement.

Janani Satchinathantham, Expert Dietitian, Aster Hospital

This is a modification to most diets that promote a sustained calorie deficit to achieve weight loss goals. One of the USPs of this approach is to avoid the impending diet crash, which usually happens to people who make drastic changes in their eating habits in order to follow a strict deficit for a long time.

IER works on the principle that intermittent periods of energy restriction can induce various physiological responses in the body, thereby improving metabolic health, says Janani Sachithanantham, specialist dietitian at Aster Hospital in Al Qusais, Dubai. Are.

During fasting or low-calorie periods, the body experiences changes in insulin sensitivity, cellular repair processes, and hormone levels, all of which contribute to potential health benefits.

good bacteria, bad bacteria

Research published last week in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology The journal looked at how the gut microbiome and brain activity changed in a sample group of people with obesity (with a body mass index between 28 and 45) when placed on the IER diet.

By the end of the study, participants lost an average of 7.6 kilograms, or about 7.8 percent. The researchers also observed positive activity in brain areas associated with the regulation of appetite and addiction.

The results also pointed to an increase in healthy gut bacteria, including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Parabacteroides distasonis and Bacteroides uniformis. These germs are linked to brain areas that control attention, motor inhibition, emotion, and learning.

The study further found a reduction in E. coli, which is associated with dietary behavior and people’s desire to lose weight.

Is IER secure?

Like other diet methods, researchers suggest that the effects are greater when the diet is followed consistently. They write, long-term dietary interventions have sustained effects on the gut microbiota, whereas short-term dietary changes only cause rapid and temporary changes in the gut microbiota. Thus, for weight loss maintenance, a highly controlled long-term IER intervention is recommended.

However, Sachinantham says people should exercise caution before adopting any dieting strategy, and IER may not be suitable or safe for everyone.

For example, it is not recommended for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

She explains that a personalized approach that considers individual health goals and potential risks is essential for a balanced and sustainable approach to dietary practices.

However, he agrees that current evidence shows that it holds promise as a viable approach to weight management and overall health improvement.

For those who want to try IER, Dubai experts warn that it is important to choose nutrient-rich foods rather than blindly monitoring calorie intake.

These food choices are important when it comes to the efficacy of the method, she says, as they ensure the body receives the necessary vitamins and minerals for better health outcomes.

Updated: December 26, 2023, 11:12 am

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